How to Prune a Maple Tree

A maple tree.
  • 0-1 hours
  • Beginner
  • 0-100
What You'll Need
Pruning shears
What You'll Need
Pruning shears

One of the more handsome trees that can be grown in your landscape is a maple tree. A longtime favorite, the maple tree can produce tremendous foliage in the autumn season, and a large canopy of shade in the summer. Not only are they great trees for shade, but they also produce a wonderful tasting sap.

Maple trees are easy to take care of and maintain. Maple trees do not need regular pruning. This guide will help you, though, when it is time to prune your maple tree.

Why Prune Maple Trees?

When you prune your maple tree, or any tree, shrub, or plant for that matter, you are giving it several different things at once. First, you are training the tree to grow in the direction you want it to. Next, your pruning is shaping the tree and keeping it clean, neat, and attractive. Pruning also energizes the tree for more blooms, fruits, or rejuvenated growth.

Pruning trees is more than just taking your sheers and lopping off branches. There has to be some sort of reason and plan in pruning your maple tree.

Prune After Leaves Develop

A tap on a maple tree.

For most trees, you should prune when the spring thaw is coming and you start to see a little life in your trees. Pruning them before the buds come out will help the tree produce blooms and fruit. Maple trees have sap that many people will tap for making syrup. This sap can be a nuisance for saws and tools. Wait until the leaves completely develop before pruning a maple tree. There will be much less sap.

Remove Dead Branches First

When you start pruning the maple tree you should always start with the dead and weak branches first. Do a quick inspection of the tree and take note of any limbs that are dead, in the process of dying, or are very weak and are dropping sharply. Once these branches are removed you will have a better look at what live branches should be taken off, if any.

Remove Large Branches First

A man prunes a tree.

Once you have the branches picked out that you are going to prune off, cut them off about a foot away from the main trunk. Cut it cleanly with one cut coming from the bottom up and another cut meeting it from the top. Once the weight from this branch is gone, you can cut off the remainder of the stub. Cut cleanly so as not to remove too much bark.

Thin Accordingly

Once the larger branches are gone you can begin to thin out the remaining smaller branches. Shape the tree to be pleasant looking and healthy, instead of large and unruly. Your main goal in getting rid of some of the smaller branches is to let more light and air in through the foliage. This will help with the photosynthesis of the leaves and overall health of the tree.

These steps will help you prune a maple tree and keep it healthy.